Great Stuff Found on the Web — Liturgy Solutions on “More Like the Baptists Every Day?”

This was pointed out to me by a loyal BJS reader — it’s found on Liturgy Solutions, the place to find effective musical resources for confessional Lutheran liturgy. I know that the Choir Director at my church (St John’s Lutheran in Champaign, IL) has used material from Liturgy Solutions to add some interest our services throughout the year. The following article talks about the worship service at the LCMS Convention … the title says it all, “More Like the Baptists Every Day?”.

 


 

As a former church musician in the Evangelical Free Church, I was for years immersed in efforts to use music to create enthusiasm for and numerical growth in worship attendance. The LCMS is going where I was, and subsequently left, in favor of a truly Lutheran brand of worship. The LCMS is looking more and more like the Free Church; not everywhere, but in enough places to cause alarm. And it is not so much about who is doing what, as much as there is a consciousness pervading the LCMS that is bound to make us into a more and more mainline protestant church and a less and less Lutheran church. Lutheran theology and worship is distinctive and has certain hallmarks that make it what it is. If we want to preserve these things, we need to speak more clearly about how we are not.

When Jesus comes again in glory to judge both the living and the dead, nothing will be set ablaze more quickly than 21st Century popular culture. Yet, it appears that we cannot wait to befoul ourselves with it. And the 2010 LCMS Convention provided some very good examples as to how. It was disappointing to me to witness the egalitarian manner in which worship music styles were treated. The arguments about how differing musical styles communicate different messages are well established, yet we insist on acting as if they do not, as if differing musical expressions carry no implications, for better or worse, one way or the other. At very least, the music of the pop-culture is carnal and not churchly.

The mainstream evangelical protestant denominations have seen fit to make their worship music reflect the sounds and moods of the secular popular culture almost exclusively. This trend is steadily increasing in the LCMS. The more the music sounds like the world, the better. This usually involves a drum kit, electric bass, electric guitar, and some kind of keyboard. And this has become the essential accompanying entity for their services. Out goes the organ, and even a piano, and in come the drum set, electric bass, and guitar. And this core group of instruments, with the timbres they produce, is the sound that defines contemporary worship music–– and for supporters, it is a requirement. Any other manifestation of a contemporary sound is of little to no interest for congregations intent on going in this direction. This, no matter how much better other contemporary initiatives may serve to uphold and illuminate the texts of the music being sung or how creative and masterful other stylistic renderings may be. For supporters of this approach, there is only one kind of contemporary music: rock-n-roll (or maybe jazz). How many of our churches are moving in this same direction?

It seems apparent to me that the LCMS Convention was trying to model both repertoire and performance standards for this pop/rock style–– a style that was presented, this year more than ever, as a perfectly viable option for any of our LCMS parishes to employ. So, just like the evangelical protestant, we are incorporating into our services a pop-culture sound, some parishes to a significant degree, where the sound of the band becomes normative and essential for our worship music, or so it is thought.

Nowhere was this more dismally exemplified than during the Karaoke styled, congregational hymn singing, setting traditional hymns to prerecorded hymn accompaniment tracks, using this pop-band style. This practice quickly made its way into evangelicalism a couple decades ago. Apparently it is more satisfying to sing a traditional hymn with a back beat, electric guitar and drum set rather than with an organ, piano or both, or even with combinations of other instruments. I seriously question whether most people think this is all that cool to begin with. But even if they do, I am more confident in this: the rock band accompanying a traditional hymn forces its text into a mood or spirit provided by the music. It should be the reverse. The text should inform how the musical accompaniment is crafted. This time-tested, honored, and responsible approach to hymn accompanying is all but destroyed when using the pop-band approach to congregational singing. And the evangelicals who have employed it have essentially given up using traditional hymns in their worship. This is because it does not work! Are we Lutherans doing the same thing?

Like the evangelical, Lutherans in many areas are already closing themselves off to real variety and creativity in worship music, in that, if the service does not have the exact kind of instrumentation and style they want, it does not pass for being contemporary enough. Take away that drum set or remove the electric guitar and the music is not truly contemporary! Like me, those contemporary musicians and composers who resist this style, are open to almost any style of music that does not attempt to mirror or bend the knee to the pop-culture as it is manifest in our day. We are open to a great variety of musical styles, instrumentations, textures, harmonic, rhythmic, and ethnic vocabularies. These are the tools we use as musicians. Our goal is musical quality, as we are musicians. Our great priority is to retain and exalt our rich hymn tradition from ancient and post-Reformation repertoires. Our goal also is to cultivate a churchly, contemporary musical expression that sounds like something other than what the world reserves for it’s most licentious musical entertainments. Is this not a more responsible and creative approach than just simply engaging the pop-band?

Here’s my concern for the LCMS and earnest Lutherans everywhere: After a decade of an all but complete endorsement of pop-culture styled contemporary music (as evidenced by this recent convention) we are moving in exactly the same direction as our Protestant evangelical counterparts. It would be interesting to see how many of our own congregations have minimized the liturgy to the barest framework, altered it to barely recognizable, or jettisoned it entirely–– as the mainline protestants have done. The more of this music parishes employ the less it will be thought that careful adherence to the liturgy will be necessary. Same with our hymns. In evangelicalism, hymns have all but disappeared entirely. How close are some of our parishes to doing the same? How many of your young people are learning hymns? Which hymns? Does it matter? In modern Protestantism, it clearly does not. Insofar as these things are happening among us, we may expect to suffer the same theological fate as the watered down services of the evangelical protestant. It will affect the thrust of our preaching and the definition of our worship, taking us further and further from our confessional moorings.

Next post will discuss how, even in the face of vehement protestations to the contrary, the employment of pop-culture styled contemporary worship music serves to erode our confessional theological precision.

 


 

Head on over to Liturgy Solutions for more posts like this.

 

About Norm Fisher

Norm was raised in the UCC in Connecticut, and like many fell away from the church after high school. With this background he saw it primarily as a service organization. On the miracle of his first child he came back to the church. On moving to Texas a few years later he found a home in Lutheranism when he was invited to a confessional church a half-hour away by our new neighbors.

He is one of those people who found a like mind in computers while in Middle School and has been programming ever since. He's responsible for many websites, including the Book of Concord, LCMSsermons.com, and several other sites.

He has served the church in various positions, including financial secretary, sunday school teacher, elder, PTF board member, and choir member.

More of his work can be found at KNFA.net.

Comments

Great Stuff Found on the Web — Liturgy Solutions on “More Like the Baptists Every Day?” — 86 Comments

  1. Steven Bobb,

    I agree!

    I published a book edited by Jim Pierce and Elaine Gavin on converts to Lutheranism. (It is available at http://www.churchministrypublishers.com although we are not officially online yet.) I think this is looking like another book of testimonies of those who have come to the liturgical side of things. Mike – if you are reading this, send me an e-mail at rossow.tim”at”gmail.com and we can talk.

    TR

  2. @STEVEN BOBB #51

    “It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer.” -Albert Einstein

    Who is Mike Baker? He was nothing then. He is still nothing now. He is just a horrible sinner full of hot air and pride. His story is just a long list of failures and sin. That pathetic track recrod will not change in this life. He has no solutions for you.

    Now this Christ. This Savior. That’s someone worth listening to.

  3. @Pastor Tim Rossow #52

    I know what you mean, but I would not necessarily say that I am on “the liturgical side of things”. I have come to be a huge lover of the liturgy, but I recognize that a lot of that is nothing more than my personal taste. It is very possible to be a Christian saved by grace and not be emotionally wild about liturgies or hymnody. You can, on the other hand, be emotionally wild about liturgies and hymnody and be as damned as any pagan ever was.

    History is full of examples where a liturgy was used to do exactly what contemporary music is doing now: obscure the Gospel for the sake of man-centered religion and human traditions. There are plenty of churches that are all about their liturgies that are just as Christless as the most obnoxious megachurch.

    This may be unpopular, but I have to say that the promotion of the liturgy, the confessions, and traditional Lutheran sensibilities is just not enough. That should never be an end in itself. That can be a means by which the Gospel is proclaimed… but it is so easy to remove the gospel from it and focus on the work that WE are doing or the principles that WE must defend.

    That anthropocentric error is what happened to the early church during the Judaizer Heresy, the Roman Catholic church during the middle ages, the Lutheran church during the rise of Pietism, and American Christianity today. It is probably the one constant error that plagues the church through all times and places. It has its roots in the great lie from the Garden of Eden where the clear revelation of God is put aside for the sake of something that appears good to our eyes and ears.

    Pastor Weedon made an excellent observation the other day over on his blog. He said, “The problem is when we focus on extolling the proclamation of the Gospel; instead of actually proclaiming the Gospel.”

    I happen to agree with that. These are words that we all should take to heart and keep always in the front of our minds as we move forward together in truth and love. St. Paul reminds us that we are just mere planters and waterers, gentlemen. The Holy Spirit provides the growth. Christ protects and builds up His church.

    And the job of that church is not merely to protect or preserve Word and Sacrament. It is supposed to purely proclaim the Word and administer the Sacraments in accordance with Scripture. If you don’t do enough of the latter you can never have the former.

    @mbw #54

    …that’s good to hear. Now go and tell someone else about Christ’s death on the cross for the forgiveness of their sins.

  4. @A New Lutherian #40

    Hi New Lutheran,

    I have a sincere question for you.

    Since you are new, you know your reasons for being a Lutheran.

    Can you share those reasons here? Others have, and it’s been uplifiting.

    I knew my reasons too, since I was not brought up as a Lutheran.

    Just wanting to know what you think.

  5. @Mike Baker #56

    Mike … you might have missed the irony of my comment.

    As for how I spend my days, I have my vocations … God does indeed send opportunities for me to share His Word … and I usually botch them.

    Your word for me is “work.” My word for you is what you have begun to learn: “rest in your forgiveness/”

  6. @James Kellerman #41
    Rev. Dr. James Kellerman, well said, well said…words and why hymns are sung is the most important aspect. Perhaps many of us should study the history of the liturgy and the worship, as you have perhaps more than all of us.

  7. @Mike Baker #56

    This may be unpopular, but I have to say that the promotion of the liturgy, the confessions, and traditional Lutheran sensibilities is just not enough. That should never be an end in itself. That can be a means by which the Gospel is proclaimed… but it is so easy to remove the gospel from it and focus on the work that WE are doing or the principles that WE must defend.

    The Divine Service is composed of Law and Gospel. Its proclamation is the special work of those ordained to this vocation. It is their daily, immediate work and therefore a kind of “end.” It is necessary, and it is sufficient. When a pastor teaches and preaches according to the Confessions (only), and administers the Sacraments rightly, and abstains from unholy living, he has done his work. That is the point of supporting and advocating historic worship practices.

  8. Thank you all for the feed back. Old Time St. Johns, I agree with you when you said, “My view is that it’s much better to have pretty consistent Sunday worship so that everyone can become familiar with it, and to have traditional worship forms so that everyone is connected in practice with other churches and with the Church through the centuries.” We need a memorized foundation and other hymns and worship services can be built on that. You see that the variety with I am introducing are the Psalms and the Catechism. ( I’m a believer that the Small Catechism should be used liturgically more often.)

    I believe some of you read too quickly, my use of Colossians was not an advocacy of Amy Grant et. al. I was affirming that psalmois (psalms), humanois (hymns), and oedais pneumatikais (spiritual songs) are not identical in meaning and hence do present the dreaded variety. I could have just as well made the point by pointing out that there are 150 psalms instead of just one.

    But, friends, there is a bigger issue here.

    Christian fidelity i.e. Orthodoxy, is not an adherence to a liturgical practice! Orthodoxy is a matter of God’s Word as expounded in the Confessions, and nothing other than that. Yes, worship styles do express theology, and this always must be taken in account, but it is the theology, the doctrine, the confession that begins and ends all practice. Worship is subservient to doctrine and pastoral care as it says in the Apology XXIV The Mass “After all, the chief purpose of all ceremonies is to teach the people what they need to know about Christ.”

    It is right to avoid the bad theology of much of popular Christian music because, as you know (Mike Baker’s post showed this plainly. Thanks Mike), much of it is anthropocentric, emotion based, is clueless regarding the means of grace, and, frankly, shallow. HOWEVER in our zeal to protect ourselves from one evil, we dare not back into an other.

    The worship service exists for man, not man for the worship service. Consequently, we must understand that an hymn, or a liturgy etc. must be evaluated by its purpose to serve the people with Word and Sacraments. For different people this must be done differently. As it is written in the Formula of Concord Epitome, Article X Church Usages (which should certainly be the staring point of any discussion about Lutheran worship practices.)

    Under Affirmative Theses-

    “2. We believe, teach, and confess that the congregation of God of every place and every time has the power, according to its circumstances, to change such ceremonies in such manner as may be most useful and edifying to the congregation of God.”

    And again,

    “5. We believe, teach, and confess also that no Church should condemn another because
    one has less or more external ceremonies not commanded by God than the other, if otherwise
    there is agreement among them in doctrine and all its articles, as also in the right use of the
    holy Sacraments, according to the well-known saying: Dissonantia ieiunii non dissolvit
    consonantiam fidei, Disagreement in fasting does not destroy agreement in faith.”

    Our goal and purpose is to “edify the congregation”. This means that we look at the message of the worship and also to those receiving the message. If we are competent Pastors we will continually catechize our flock so that they will be discerning. Having Christian Questions and their Answers from the Catechism is one excellent tool for this. And remember worship is a tool, i.e. a means. Christ, and the reception of Christ is the end. If that can be accomplished with an electric guitar, or a bagpipe, then so be it, provide, that it is indeed accomplished.

    If we define Confessionalism as adherence to a particular worship style we will be hurting God’s Church and we will be sinning. Confessionalism confesses the Confessions. It does not confess a language, a structure, or even a method of worship. These things are important but their evaluation rests on the Creeds and we dare not go beyond what is written.

    It is especially important that we impress this on the laity, because the default mode for a man off the street is to look at external things. (Have you ever heard a Baptist say something like, “Lutheran? Oh, there just like the Catholics.” Meaning by that that the worship seems (on the surface) the same.

    Let me end with something one of my professors said to me many years ago. Dave Scaer said that when he went to speak at a pietistic Methodist campus, he bought a pack of cigarettes and smoked a few. His friend would say “Dr. Scaer, I didn’t know that you smoked!” “I don’t.” Scaer responded, “But hear I do it as an act of confession.”

    I don’t much like the drums in church. But every once in a while, its good to have one in the sanctuary, just to confess Christian liberty.

    Remember it’s not about you or me, or what we want, it’s about our people and what brings Christ to them.

  9. @Pastor Philip Spomer #61
    don’t much like the drums in church. But every once in a while, its good to have one in the sanctuary, just to confess Christian liberty.

    Even better if the drum takes its place beside the organ rather than in the chancel.
    Our liturgical Lutheran Divine Service is accompanied at intervals by various instruments, usually in partnership with organ or piano.

  10. Sure. I was raised Southern Baptist in an area that was mostly Catholic. My family going way back was very active in the Baptist church. Rarely did I hear anything in the Baptist church growing up but Organ, Piano and hymns. Maybe an acoustic guitar once in a blue moon. But there was always something missing for me. When going to Catholic church with friends there was something there I really liked, some of it I see in my Lutheran church, a huge part was a reverence that seemed to be missing in the Baptist. And when I first started going to the Lutheran church my preference was for the somewhat traditional service and music. But over the past several years I have been really moved by all Christian music and we mix it up in my church. Always some traditional, but several lower key ‘new’. I have read some of the post here and was really taken back… shocked. I mean, have they read just the words to these songs. Revelation Song moves me to the very deeply, to my core. I can’t understand the sexy voice comments or others related to women. I have Muslim friends, there are comments here that have made me think of a burka.

    So, sorry if I’m doing a poor job of describing why I love my Lutheran church so. Some of it is very hard to describe, but for the first time in my life I feel Gods presence when in church. It can be the hymns with the Pipes that I really really love, or Decembers End’s version of Revelation Song that brought tears to my eyes. I thought they were very careful in the selection of non traditional songs for the convention. But maybe I’m not as traditional as I thought I was… I really like Brian “Head” Welch’s Washed By Blood or most of The Letter Black’s work… Ok, ya need to know I’m in my 50’s. I don’t think these last two mentioned should ever be in a church service, but I fear that most on this site would have a stroke if they dared to listen to these.

    So back to why Lutheran. I had my first “Real” Communion in my church after becoming a member and attending class… had received Communion prior to that, but was not the same. Feeling is still the same each time now… This was a gift related to Lutheran doctrine, tradition, principles ….. right? So just really freaked out to read some of the stuff I found here. Can’t help it if I really like “More Cow Bell”. I was really shocked that it offended so many.

  11. @helen #63

    > drums

    Our church has all manner of symphonic percussion, up in the loft, along with many other instruments. Nobody is offended; in fact the music is often very moving.

  12. @mbw #65

    > > drums

    I had occasion to stop by an e-free church a few weeks ago. There was a funeral service for the dad of an old friend in one of their chapel-like rooms.

    I was not quite sure how to get out of the [big] building. I found myself going past a kind of auditorium. The doors were locked, but I was able to look in a window.

    What I saw was a stage, with a modern drum kit right in the center. My memory might be tricking me now, but I think there was clear plexiglas in front of the drums, as though the drummer could need protection from beer bottles.

    My attitude towards this church, whose steeple I can see a mile or two off the north of my home, had been benign, and I guess it still is. But I didn’t like seeing the drums there.

    I’ve appreciated some very fine, world class rock bands (and they don’t make rock like they used to), and even played my share. I cannot imagine anyone of my generation wishing to have that experience penetrate itself into the Divine Service.

  13. @A New Lutherian #64

    NL: It is probably going to be said to you that you are putting feelings above truth. I hope not, because nobody can say that about you without knowing you better. I just want to point out that we Lutherans are not gnostics and we believe that Christ came fully in a the body of a human man (yet without sin). We will be resurrected in our new bodies. Our bodies and feelings were created by God for His glory and our good. They were originally Good. Now, they are corrupt, and subject to error; they can and will lead us astray. But the emotions of a Christian are for our good and God’s glory; they are gifts to be used as instruments and servants of those. I do trust that you do put the Truth of Christ and His Word over your feelings, when you suspect that there is any conflict. The Reverence that you are hearing in the Lutheran Service is an outflow of the historic adherence to God’s Holy Word for which the Lutheran church has existed (not always perfectly). It was the acknowledgement of the inescapable and condemning Law, distinguished from the free Gospel of forgiveness bought through the Holy Blood of God’s only Son, Jesus Christ.

  14. New Lutheran,

    One does not have to want women to wear burkas when one says that women should not wear a negligé to church.

    The pop styles such as used by the singer who led “Revelation Song” at the LCMS convention are acoustically routed in sensuality. See Rock n Roll, history of. And Rock n Roll, marketing.

    Scripture is pretty clear on how women are to adorn themselves. (1 Timothy 2:9) Modesty is not Islamic. But that’s really beside the point. A male singer copying those styles is also inappropriately “dressed” (vocally speaking) for Divine Service.

    Music communicates by reflecting sounds in nature, by association with texts and/or other music, by internal variation, and, to a degree, by harmonic modulation (subtly, too be sure, but musicologists can prove it). Much of CCM’s “sound” is problematic only because of its associations. Stripped of that sound, some CCM songs can be recast in a churchly way. However, vocal stylings that are copying the sultry stylings of pop music reflect sounds that are simply inappropriate. That’s why “Revelation Song” was doubly divisive at the convention.

    If you cannot see that, then I hope you will at least accept that for many of your brothers and sisters in the faith, such music causes offense. And so it has no place among us. Listen to it in your car, according to the freedom you enjoy in the Gospel, but please enjoy your musical cigarettes on your own.

    Please understand that I am not seeking to diminish you in any way as I say this, nor do I think that there is anything wrong with “being moved to the core” by a piece of music. I’m a professional musician, after all! But I do appeal to you to understand that the issue here is how Christians can walk together in love, not your tastes vs. mine.

    Peace be with you. In Christ.

  15. Pastor Spomer,

    It seems you are fighting the battles of the Reformation while the issues today are in many ways considerably different. And you beg the same question, “how do we walk together in love?” No one here is advocating the sanitive model of justification or making ex opere operato claims for the liturgy.

    But we as a synod have agreed to do certain things beyond the confessions, such as the “exclusive use” of our catechisms, liturgies, and agendas. There is plenty of variety there, but also more boundaries. Structures, even. And, while your point about “methods” is well-taken, some “methods” are NOT edifying. Even if someone can point to increased worship attendance. Many of today’s “methods” are just modern versions of the “anxious bench”. (It really packed them in during the 1800’s!)

    If anything, the battles we face today are more akin to what Walther and our synodical fathers went through rather than Luther and Melancthon’s battles. And Papa Walther was a lot harder on Methodist hymns that anyone is over here at Johnny Steadfast over today’s Protestant ditties!

  16. And, to be clear Pastor Spomer, I do agree with much of what you say. I just think you are avoiding the real issue.

    Hint: it’s not drums. We have them at Bethany. We have timpani, congas, hand drums, and a djimbé. And we play them often. It’s not the tools; it is how they are used.

    Guns don’t kill people. People kill people.

  17. Thanks Phillip,

    “I just think you are avoiding the real issue.”

    I don’t want to do that. By the issue do you mean, “how do we walk together in love?”?

    If so, I would answer by saying that that is what a Pastor has to discern as part of his craft with the congregation under his care. Now, lest anyone get me wrong, I don’t mean that each just go his own way. What I mean is that we start with the Confessions; we neither add or subtract from them. Next the discussion is about means to the end of Orthodoxy. The best means will depend on the congregation and the Pastor’s success in ongoing catechization.

    In church A a drum set may mean, “We’re trying to ape the general culture.” In church B a drum set may mean, “We’re co-opting the elements of the general culture and putting them to righteous ends.”

    Whether the question is circumcision or uncircumcision, eating food sacrificed to idols, or elevating the Host. We must choose what brings our people to Christ. The smaller the church the more a Pastor is able to mold these perceptions. The more comfortable the Pastor is in his own orthodoxy, the less anxious he will be about any procedural anominallies, because he will be better at ascertaining their degree of spiritual hazard.

    What I worry about though, is that some, in there zeal to oppose admittedly unedifying worship practices, may redefine Orthodoxy from a confessional act, to an act of liturgical rectitude. I have witnesses this. “Worshiping the devil can be overlooked, as long as we worship the devil with the traditional liturgy.” Crazy, but the world is crazy.

    God speed.

  18. Points well taken, Pastor Spomer.

    Good discussion.

    I think you would join me in saying that there is also “church C” and “church D”. It’d be fun to play with such examples sometime – maybe we’ll have the chance to do so in person someday. Perhaps at the next BJS conference? Hope you’ll join us. 🙂

    (btw, your last point echoes well the point made by Mike Baker regarding the insufficiency of liturgy. Elsewhere on this site is news of the ELCA’s reinstatment of pastors who lead sexual impure and indecent lives. I know from my days in the ALCM, a mostly ECLA group, how many of this ilk do beautiful liturgical worship – and yet miss the boat entirely.)

    I’ll let you have the last word, but let me say also that your rejoinder echoes the wise words of our new synodical president in Houston. At a reception for our seminaries he said that “if the theology coming into the parishes is good” (i.e. from good seminary education) positive things will happen “according to the context” found in each individual parish.

    I’m hopeful that the Koinonia Project, seminary revitalization, and the ongoing “Model Theological Conference on Worship” (which is to continue at the district level next year) will all work together to promote that good theology, that we may walk closer together in love, rebuilding the trust and unity we share in the Gospel.

    Thanks for contributing to the converstaion.

  19. “We must choose what brings our people to Christ.”

    Sorry, Pr. Spomer, but I can’t let this one go. Christ Jesus has provided the means to draw people to himself: Word and Sacrament. Law and Gospel.

    From Michael Horton’s “The Gospel-Driven Life”: “…it is not the depth and richness of our experiences and relationships, but the quantity and perpetual ‘zing’ we get out of them that matters. We are terrified of being bored. Educational videos and lessons for children are advertised as ‘fun’ and that is a critical criterion for everything from worship planning to evangelism in the church. Let’s face it: a traditional Christian service of public invocation, Bible reading, prayer, preaching and sacraments is not ordinarily ‘fun.’ ‘It’s like watching corn grow,’ as they say. There is no excuse for pastors to be so aloof, lazy, or distracted from their congregation that there is no connection. Nevertheless, on an average month of Sundays, every believer SHOULD find church a little boring. I find marriage a little boring. And raising four children. And going to work every day. I am even bored by travel…If we made all of our decisions based on how highly it scored today on the ‘fun’ meter, we would never commit ourselves to relationships and processes that take a long time to see any results…church can’t be church; it has to be a ‘worship-experience’ that alters one’s cell structure every time.”

    Please forgive me if I took your comments incorrectly, and I may get yelled at for quoting a Calvinist (about the only non-Lutheran other than the Church Fathers that I regularly read). However, from what I took from your comments, I felt this needed addressed. A pastor friend of mine told me in his homelitics class that he was told that if something can be taken wrong, it will be taken wrong, so our wording should be carefully chosen. Again, I apologize if I misinterpreted your comments, but I again stress that our Triune God brings people to Christ despite us. Any flak-jackets left, J?

  20. Boogie,

    I apologize for not being clear. Thanks for giving me a chance to correct it. By writing, “We must choose what brings our people to Christ.” I meant to paraphrase Apology XXIV The Mass: “After all, the chief purpose of all ceremonies is to teach the people what they need to know about Christ.”

    In other words ‘bring people to Christ’ as Christ would define it (as you said through Word and Sacraments) and as the people can take it in. This isn’t necessarily fun. Why, some of the greatest sermons are boring! At least that’s what my sainted mother use to tell me after she heard me preach 🙂

  21. @Pastor Phil Spomer #76
    No apology needed, but accepted. I offer my apologies for interpreting what you said incorrectly. Being hard-core Lutheran, any time the words “accept” or “bring to Christ” are seen, alarms, bells, whistles, and red flags go off. I think we are on the same page, after your clarification. Like I’ve said before, I’m not promoting “TLH 15 or nothing.” On the other hand, we are Lutherans, not garden-variety Evangelicals, for a reason (namely Scriptural reasons). Thanks for the reply, and God’s blessings as you administer Word and Sacrament in Christ’s stead.

    In Christ,

    Boogie

  22. Boogie,

    I was going to say the same thing until you said. Glad it all worked out.

    Spomer – your response was great. I should not have doubted you but was in good company if Boogie was thinking the same thing.

    TR

  23. Just a quick sidebar–a couple of years ago my wife and I were in New York City. While there we looked up an old friend of ours. She and her husband are both Juilliard graduates. He plays viola with the New York Philharmonic, and she teaches music at an Evangelical Christian college in New Jersey. Most of her students come from the kind of praise-band, rock music, contemporary worship congregations described above. I’ll never forget the look of despair in her eyes when she said that NONE of her kids knew ANY traditional hymns. Not even Amazing Grace. A generation had arizen that knew not Isaac Watts. Praise choruses were ALL they knew. She was trying to educate them in the great tradition of Christian hymnody, but having little success.

  24. Excellent sidebar, Fritz. We tend to forget that the Baptists have their hymn tradition as well. The old concern among us was that Lutherans wanted to sing those hymns, for reasons of musical taste. Sure, some of those hymns are fine hymns and have found their way into our hymnals – just as hymns from Roman Catholic and Reformed traditions have. But the danger was that folks just wanted to sing them because they liked the style, and pushed against pastors and musicians who showed discernment in this matter. Still, some of those hymns are good hymns for us to sing – and many of them are great hymns for Baptists to sing, because those hymns nurture the singers in Baptist doctrines. Yet they are becoming artifacts.

    This reminds me of what what went down a few years ago in a Baptist church where a cousin of mine is married to the pastor, whom they call “Brother Rick”. A few years ago, things came to a head because some of the folks there wanted to nix the organ & piano and start singing a lot more “praise songs”. These same folks also didn’t like how Brother Rick was preaching all the time against sin. Basically, it was the same debate that we hear in LCMS circles: “telling folks they are sinners and that people are going to hell is a turnoff; we need to turn people on with messages that help their daily living and sing songs that are fun and motivating.” So they called for a meeting, with the agenda of replacing Brother Rick with a pastor who would “meet their needs”.

    Fortunately, the deacons of the church (save one, who was with the agitators) all got up and “stood with Brother Rick” as he explained to the congregation that they needed to sing “songs and hymns about the blood of Jesus” and that church was all about bringing forgiveness to sinners. Then the head deacon told the folks that they, the deacons, would be supporting Brother Rick “as long as he preaches and teaches what is in that Bible.” The congregation voted to keep their pastor.

    The happy end on this story is that after losing several families over this issue (many joined a Pentecostal congregation nearby called “New Life Tabernacle”), the congregation experienced a unifying period of renewal and then embarked on a building program. Though they are in the country, they are a stronger congregation than they have ever been.

    The downside on this is that most Baptists and other evangelicals today have lost their hymn heritage. More “Brother Ricks” lost their battles than won them, as is evidenced by those college students in New Jersey (who presumably come from around the country). I remember evangelical friends complaining about this in the 90’s when I was in Peoria as it was happening there. (They told me that their kids sang more genuinely Christian songs – i.e. songs with theological content – by singing in the Peoria Area Youth Chorus, a civic organization, than they did in their own churches.) And so in “becoming more like Baptists every day” we now refer to a new problem: that we are following them in losing our hymnody.

    Whether one adopts the hymns of another confession or follows them in abandoning the singing of any confession, it is not a sign of health for a synod.

  25. Rick #28
    “Money can be raised to purchase hymnals for these churches. Churches in the U.S. and elsewhere can buy these hymnals and send them where they’re needed.”

    Anyone know of any churches who would buy these hymnals (Lutheran Hymnals in French or Creole) and send them where they are needed? This seems like a wonderful mission project for several hundred churches! Contact L S Convention Delegate if you do!

  26. @Rick #5
    I wasn’t at the convention, but (and pardon me for changing the thread of this conversation a bit) over the years I have become increasingly concerned about the songs that are being used in our Sunday Schools and VBSs. Most of these songs sound like they’re from a rock concert, and many seem to be lacking in theological substance. Why can’t we be teaching our children the great hymns of the Christian faith?

    I have no objection to new hymns being written, and it is possible to write good hymns that are “peppy” and appealing to children. But we shouldn’t have to apologize to children for our wonderful heritage of finely crafted liturgy and hymns.

    Dave

  27. @A Beggar #84

    Are you aware of the Lutheran Church-Canada service book and hymnal : Liturgies et cantiques luthériens (October 2009)? LCL, related to LSB, was introduced to three different Lutheran church bodies in Haiti over a year ago (even before its publication).

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